Balancing Retirement Savings and Debt Repayment: Strategies for Success
Navigating debt repayment with the looming need to contribute to retirement savings is a complex situation. Be sensible by paying down debt and freeing up funds for the future.
However, keep your retirement contributions on your radar. Can you consistently contribute while paying down debt? What is the right balance?
Thoughtful planning is required to decide how much money to put toward your debt repayment plan and how much to contribute to retirement savings. Finding a balance is key. Debt and retirement are equal priorities that can be paid simultaneously.
Read on as we introduce successful strategies for paying off debt while continuing retirement contributions.
Prioritize High-Interest Debt Repayment
Prolonging your debt while contributing to retirement causes worry that you will end up paying more in interest on the loan than you save in retirement. The worry can come to fruition for high-interest debt.
Credit cards or short-term loans with high-interest rates should be at the top of your priority list above retirement contributions. Eliminating this high-cost debt will free up more money to contribute to retirement later.
High-interest debt snowballs into greater debt, making it more challenging to build up savings at all, let alone retirement savings. Prioritize credit card payments to gain more freedom to use your money as you wish.
Determine Your Debt-to-Income Ratio
Calculate your debt-to-income ratios by adding all your debt in one month and dividing it by your monthly total income. A percentage less than 36% is considered a good ratio.
A high debt-to-income ratio does not offer the flexibility of contributing fully to retirement savings. But rest assured, that does not mean you do not contribute at all. It may mean you reduce your payments for a season until you can pay off more debt.
Do not take your debt-to-income ratio lightly because it determines how much money you can borrow to take out a loan for your business or a mortgage loan. In order to purchase a home, you will want to keep your debt-to-income ratio below 36% even after the new debt. A debt-to-income ratio that is too high indicates that keeping your head above water will be challenging.
Use this indicator to balance your debt and retirement savings contributions.
Explore Debt Consolidation Options
Reorganize your debt to save money in the long run and free up funds for retirement savings. You can take high-interest debt and consolidate it into low-interest loans. This is called debt consolidation.
Assess your debt by transferring the balance on a high-interest credit card to a lower credit card. Here are some other ways you can consolidate debt:
- Personal Loans: Take out a personal loan with the bank, securing a low-interest rate. Then use that money to pay off high-interest-rate credit cards. You will have to have a good credit score to secure a decent personal loan rate. It is imperative always to pay minimal credit card payments on time to keep up a good credit score.
- Home Equity Loans: Another way to consolidate debt is to refinance your home and reorganize debt into monthly house payments. For example, if you are making two car payments each month, you can roll that debt into your house payments at a better interest rate.
Once you have consolidated debt, calculate your debt-to-income ratio to see if you can increase your retirement saving contributions.
Take Advantage of Employer-Sponsored Retirement Plans
Once you free up enough funds to contribute more freely to retirement, prioritize employer-sponsored retirement plans. If an employer offers to match your contributions to your 401(k) or other retirement plan, maximize those benefits.
Always max out your contributions in the areas employers agree to match. This free money can significantly boost your retirement savings. It’s a great way to capitalize on your yearly income by taking advantage of employer retirement contributions.
Automate Retirement Savings and Debt Repayment
By setting up automated payments, you will automatically include debt repayment and retirement savings contributions into your monthly budget. Both of these line items should be equally important.
It is not wise to put off paying down debt or delay contributing to retirement to buy a new car or go further in debt. When you have an order to your finances and stick to what’s most important, you will be better off now and in retirement.
Automated payments are necessary to help you see your available funds each month. If you never even see the money, you will be less likely to think it is available for spending.
In addition, retirement savings can often fall to the bottom of the barrel, prioritizing what you want in the here and now. Automatic contributions will help you stay consistent with your retirement contributions. You will be grateful for the consistency when retirement hits!
Adjust Your Budget
It’s not fun. It’s not easy. But it is necessary to be more strict with your budget in order to make room for debt repayment and retirement savings. You can do both at the same time, but it may take some adjusting to your lifestyle habits.
Where does your money go? Can you afford to downsize your living space or move to a more affordable area? Small habits like eating out, grabbing coffee, and buying clothing and accessories seem like small purchases here and there.
But if you add up all your expenses, these luxuries could add up to $500 or more per month. That money could easily be saved to pay down debt or free up money for retirement contributions.
Take a look at your budget to see where you can save and prioritize more critical payments that will buy you freedom for the future.
Seek Professional Advice
The debate in your mind on where to allocate your funds can stop when you see professional financial advice. A financial advisor deals with debt repayments, retirement contributions, and budgeting every day. Use their expertise to get your finances back on track.
You can balance retirement savings and debt repayment. Let a financial advisor offer guidance and objective insights to help you achieve your financial goals.
Just because you have debt does not mean you will not need financial support during retirement. Do not forget about the future when paying off debt. Instead, balance retirement savings and debt repayment in a way that makes sense for you long-term.
Meet with a financial advisor to set life-long financial goals and plan for a trajectory to meet those goals. First, take care of high-interest debt and consider consolidation options. Assess your debt-to-income ratio as you maximize contributions to employer-sponsored retirement plans while continuing to pay down your debt.
It is possible to pay your debt and contribute to retirement at the same time. Even if you must adjust your lifestyle for a time to focus on investing in your future, it is worth it. You deserve future financial freedom and peace of mind as you approach retirement.